HORSE’S MOUTH: JAs Starring in Prep Sports

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Batter up.

It’s time to play baseball.

And what a fine start for Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who nearly pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros, giving up one hit in the ninth inning as his club won 7-0 on Tuesday.

Some may wonder why I am writing about a player named Darvish in The Rafu.

Well I’m sure most of you know he’s half Japanese.

He’s Hapa.

He doesn’t speak English, so he has an interpreter to help him when he has to converse.

Which brings me to another point. The story on Darvish said he had to use a translator in chatting with his manager.

Shouldn’t that be “He had to use an interpreter”?

According to the dictionary, a translator is one who translates written words from one language to another.

An interpreter is one who speaks on behalf of a person who doesn’t speak the language being used.

Just a thought.

Oh yeah, on the same night Darvish was throwing his gem on the mound, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a pitcher named Ryu making his debut for the local club.

He lost, but pitched a pretty good game.

By the way, Ryu is Korean, but with his name, he could be Japanese.

In Japanese, Ryu can be translated as “dragon.”

I know two Japanese in Japan with the last name Ryu.

One has the first name Masato, so there’s no chance of mistaking him as non-Japanese.

Well, hopefully the Dodgers’ Ryu may become a star for the local club.

I guess I won’t be seeing him in person on the field. Only on TV.

That’s because my “contact” with the Dodgers has been severed and I guess if I want to get out to Dodgers Stadium to watch a game, I’ll have to buy my ticket.

Yeah, I’m a cheapskate.

Got a couple notes on restaurants.

One was from a reader who wanted to know where the new Bob’s Hawaiian Restaurant is located.

He wrote: “I know you said it’s on Western Avenue, the former site of Sizzler Restaurant, but I’ve never been to Sizzler, so can you give me an address?”

Well I don’t know what the exact address is, but if you are familiar with the area, it’s on Western, just a few yards behind Union Bank. That would be just south of Redondo Beach Boulevard. Hope this will help you locate the place.

Since I frequently mention buffet restaurants, another reader said I should try a site called China Buffet located in Torrance, just off Pacific Coast Highway and Madison Park Place.

He even left me a menu. Their dinner buffet is served from 4 to 9:30 p.m.

The price is reasonable for a buffet-style restaurant. And their luncheon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. is even more reasonable.

They have take-out, which is even easier on the pocketbook.

Maybe I’ll give it a try and give my opinion to those of you who might want to give it a taste test.

Regarding my comments on the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage, which falls on my birthday this year, Toshi Ito, who describes himself as a “fellow Heart Moutnain internee,” dropped me this line: “Hope you will celebrate your birthday on July 19 in Wyoming at the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage banquet. The Interpretive Learning Center that opened in 2011 is truly worth going to see.

“It will bring back some long forgotten memories for you. Much fodder for you to write about in your column. There is Heart Mountain Sentinel, the camp’s weekly newspaper that you wrote a column for, the stark, bleak family rooms we encountered on our arrival in 1942.

“It’s truly worth going to see. Hope to see you there.”

Thanks, Toshi. Will sure try to make it.

At my age, it’s probably the last opportunity I have to go back and relive the time I spent there with the 10,000 other evacuees.

While touching on Heart Mountain, a friend and follower of my column, Patti Hirahara, sent me an email asking me which block the Sentinel office was located in because she also sent me a photo with a sign reading “The Sentinel Office” tacked on a wall.

I told her the Sentinel office wasn’t in any block. It was located in one of the administration buildings close to the entryway of the camp.

The photo was probably where the Japanese section of the newspaper was put together.

The Japanese section was printed separately and they didn’t have Japanese typeface. It was handwritten with Japanese characters in mimeograph on plain paper.

So, the Japanese section was put together in one of the barracks. I believe it was Block 9.

I hope this information will be of some help to Patti.

Well, can I jump across the ocean to Maui?

The mayor of the County of Maui is a Nisei.

His name is Alan Arakawa and he probably faces a problem no other mayor in the U.S. is facing.

To begin with, he is proposing a $20,000 increase in the Maui Humane Society budget to be used to develop a response to Maui’s wild chicken problem.

Yup. Fighting wild chickens.

There are so many of them, they knocked out power at the Kahului Airport last month.

Hey, maybe the mayor can talk Col. Sanders’ chicken restaurant into setting up an operation on Maui. Heh heh.

I opened today’s chatter touching on baseball because the Major League season opened this week.

I always look for sports because I guess when I was younger, I was involved all aspects of it.

In the old days (maybe 50 years ago) we devoted a lot of attention to major sports like football and basketball because in those days there weren’t too many Japanese Americans who starred even at the high school level.

These days there are a lot of JAs starring in prep sports, but they seem to go unnoticed in the media.

I mean, nobody seems to get excited about, say, prep volleyball.

An example?

Well, take the Camarillo High School boys’ volleyball team.

Volleyball???

Yes, Camarillo High’s volleyball team is ranked number one in the Southern California CIF.

And the star leading them is a Sansei named Matt Yoshimoto, who helped them rack up 170 “kills” through the team’s first 21 games.

At 6 feet, 2 inches in height, Yoshimoto is an all-CIF, all-county, and all-league player.

His coach said, “If we succeed this season, Yoshimoto is the main reason why.”

Yoshimoto was selected to the U.S. national team and will compete in Costa Rica in the world tournament getting under way this week.

“I’m very excited to be picked for the national team,” he said.

His family and friends are equally excited. He has received comparisons to Eric Vance, the top performer in the sport. He said, “It’s fun being the guy who gets everyone going.”

Well, one thing for sure, I’m going to scan through the sports pages to see how the U.S. team does in the world tournament.

I wasn’t even aware of a world volleyball tournament, let alone that a Sansei was leading the Americans. He was quoted as saying, “We want to make history and we know teams will play their hardest against us. We’re ready for the challenge.”

Some more overlooked sports news.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Haley Ishimatsu, but the USC sophomore won the platform diving event for USC on the final day of the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championship being held in Indianapolis.

The Trojans finished seventh overall in the NCAA championship, but Ishimatsu dominated the platform with an NCAA record 396.75 points, running away with the title with 68.15 points.

Hey, we may be rooting for her in the next Olympic Games.

Wouldn’t that be something?

A Sansei Olympic gold medal winner.

I guess none of my columns can be called complete without tossing in Las Vegas.

Well, this one involves a Japanese American named Terrance Watanabe. Those involved in casino gambling say he lost the most money ever at the gaming  tables, said to be $120 million.

The single largest continuous losing binge in Vegas history.

After his losing streak ended, Caesars, Watanabe and the casino company fought over whether the casino bore some responsibility for his losses.

Watanabe’s attorney said that his client was intoxicated for much of his losing streak on alcohol provided by Caesars.

Caesars revised its ethics and compliance program in the wake of the incident.

Watanabe spent much of the money he made from the sale of his family’s Omaha, Nebraska business, gambling at Caesar’s Palace, then known as Harrah’s.

Caesar’s provided Watanabe with their top suites and gave him round the clock security, limousine service, free food and alcohol and several bellmen to attend to his needs.

The district attorney for Clark County charged Watanabe with four felony counts stemming from $14.7 million the casino said it extended in credit, which he didn’t pay back. Watanabe pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Watanabe sued Caesars in civil court in Nevada and claimed that the casino staff plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systemic plan to keep him gambling. The company denied the allegation.

The charges were dropped in 2010 before either case went to trial. Watanabe agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement to Caesars.

One question in the probe was whether Watanabe was visibly drunk while gambling, as some current or then-employed workers described him to be. Caesars’ probe found that Watanabe was in full control of his faculties.

Gee, I guess I can’t moan about losing a few bucks when I read about someone losing $120 million, drunk or sober.

In a recent survey by The Economist, people were asked which city in the world they would most like to live in.

Most of them picked European or Canadian cities. No American cities made the top 10. The No. 1 pick was Melbourne, Australia.

As a world traveler myself, if they asked me the same question, I wouldn’t hesitate to say Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Of course, I’d probably say Gardena, except I’m not sure too many foreigners would know where Gardena is located.

Who cares?

I’d pick Gardena over all the cities named by those interviewed.

London, Paris or Melbourne?

I’ve been to those cities numerous times and I wouldn’t want to live there even if they paid me.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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